Columbus is no hero of mine

Italian-North Americans — especially those of us with roots in the Mezzogiorno (and I include the Ciociaria and Abruzzo here) — don’t need a Genoese genocidal rapist as our hero.

It’s time to eliminate Columbus Day.

It’s time for #IndigenousPeoplesDay


Seriously; this is what we're celebrating?

Seriously, this is what we’re celebrating?

Some good reading and watching:


GOOD READING: @camilacore on the political economy of Uber in Toronto

Today, taxi drivers are demonstrating in Toronto over the city dragging its heels on regulating Uber. Cabbies have also let the politicians at Queen’s Park know how they feel. Ontario also has not moved to regulate Uber.

The following post has been re-posted from @camilacore‘s Facebook page with her permission.


“The cabbies are doing themselves no favour with this strike. They need to improve their image.”

This is the same line we repeatedly about unionized workers who exercise their right to collectively bargain, strike, and march on picket lines – year after year.

Don’t celebrate your supposed adaptation to neoliberalism.. it’s nothing to be proud of. The fact that you—as a worker—have no backbone and have conceded the very last of our rights, quality jobs and quality public services to a market that redistributes wealth from the bottom tiers to the wealthiest companies and individuals is nothing to brag about. That’s not progress or ‘progressiveness’, that’s not technological advancement, and it’s only forward-thinking in that you help accelerate a race to the bottom.

It’s mega bizarre that right-wing free market groupies (consumers who drink the kool-aid and are now pouring it down your throat) can have so much influence over us that they’re able to convince us that new shit is always better shit—even when new shit amounts to concessions on democratic accountability, standard employment, health and safety, decent living wages, etc and shifts risk from corporations to workers now operating under weakened labour protections. Some people get off on precarious non-standard employment relationships that don’t include benefits, I hella don’t.

These are not simple choices we’re dealing with, quite the opposite. Capitalism forces us to make the hardest decisions and constantly pits workers against other workers, and it’s currently forcing poor residents living in the suburbs and other areas of the GTA, which are underserved by public transit, to make a decision on whether or not to use seemingly inexpensive and attractive Uber services in a time when our cost of living is rising and our employment is the most precarious.

I can’t sit here from my most-privileged vantage point and tell my associates where to put their money or how to survive off our meager salaries, but I am telling you that our decision to welcome Uber into our city, as is, will have a profound impact on our city’s economy and hundreds of jobs currently occupied by brown and black men, many of whom are immigrant men, many of whom belong to religious minority groups, and many of whom are on multiple fronts discriminated against in the Canadian economy and who are vastly over qualified for their line of work. Drivers whose education, experience, and credentials have been denied by the Canadian state and who often work multiple jobs, or whose racialized wives have picked up the slack since immigrating to Canada. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for what’s at stake here. All of these issues must be addressed, though it’s not single-handedly the fault of Uber (a mere player among many that gets to stroll in and shit on Canadian workers) that we’re placed in this predicament, but I do ask that we be more critical when discussing the impacts of this general shift and make an effort to understand the issues placed before us from a labour standpoint.

Good Reading: Kwe Today On Sex Workers As Persons

In the context of ongoing debate over Bill C36, the so-called Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, @Kwetoday has crafted a powerful personal post urging an understanding that sex workers exist in many more dimensions than merely their occupation: they are family and friends ─ and that’s very important.

Here is the link: We Are Persons Too. #sexwork #C36 #C36Just

Good Reading: Melissa Fong On The Intersection Of Racism and Male Privilege

Melissa Fong offers a fantastic analysis of some online activism being done by @SUEY_PARK, @BLACKGIRLDANGER @THEWAYOFTHEID and @CHEUYA around issues of male privilege and its intersection with racism.

Ms. Fong’s post comes in the aftermath of @Suey_Park’s opposition to a racist joke made by a Twitter account affiliated with television personality Stephen Colbert and the subsequent backlash she received after speaking out against the joke and calling for Colbert’s show to be cancelled.

Here is the link: Proving male privilege: @SUEY_PARK, @BLACKGIRLDANGER @THEWAYOFTHEID and @CHEUYA Striking Back #cancelcolbert Part 3

Good Reading: Paisley Rae On Really Engaging With Toronto Politics

Toronto’s municipal election campaign is officially underway.

When it is all over on Oct. 27, 2014, several school board trustees, 44 councillors and one mayor will be elected.

Paisley Rae has written a poignant post pressing Torontonians to ask important questions about needs in the city and whether it is reasonable to expect that such needs will be met in the short term.

She also urges more listening, more engagement and more scrutiny of what is promised vis-à-vis what is actually delivered.

Here is the link: How I stopped worrying about elections and learned to love democracy #TOpoli

GOOD READING: Pam Palmater on The Throne Speech and Canada’s War with the Mi’kmaw Nation at Elsipogtog

A clash erupted on the Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick Thursday after Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers moved in on peaceful Mi’kmaw Nation demonstrators opposed to hydraulic fracking by Texas-based Southwestern Energy. The demonstrators had been blockading vehicles owned by the company.

There were reports of rubber bullets being fired by police, snipers pointing weaponsat First Nations women and children and police cars lit ablaze.

Tensions flare as the police line advances. Police tear gassing the crowd. Photo/Ossie Michelin/APTN

Tensions flare as the police line advances. Police tear gassing the crowd. Photo/Ossie Michelin/APTN

Academic and activist Pam Palmater wrote an insightful post that touches on the lead-up to today’s incident, a history of clashes between the Canadian state and the Mi’kmaw Nation and provides valuable context. It also offers answers as to what the incident means at a macro-level in the Canadian political economy.

Here is the link: Feathers verus Guns: The Throne Speech and Canada’s War with the Mi’kmaw Nation at Elsipogtog

The place of First Nations nationhood in the wider Canadian context ─ especially as it relates to water and earth, which are being industrialized heavily by settler governments ─ is arguably unresolved for many people, both First Nations and Moniyawak* alike.

On the facts, today incident appears to have been an example of the Canadian state employing its coercion monopoly against a recognized nation with legitimate concerns about the sustainability of the water supply. The upshot appears to be that state intended to protect foreign capital.

I believe this is a disproportionate and inappropriate response by the Canadian state. The Elsipogtog First Nation must be treated with respect and play an equal and important role in discussions about what is intended for the land being eyed for fracking.

(*Many thanks to Otâcimow for teaching me, via Twitter, the Cree word for “white person.”)